Byline: Mark Didtler
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Will Middlebrooks hit a three-run double off closer Fernando Rodney with two outs in the ninth inning that lifted the Boston Red Sox past the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, on Thursday night.
Middlebrooks lined a shot to left on a 1-2 pitch from Rodney (1-2) with the bases loaded, giving the Red Sox the lead. Rodney, who blew just two saves last year, is 7 for 10 in save opportunities this year.
After walking Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, Rodney struck out Mike Napoli before loading the bases with a walk to Daniel Nava. Stephen Drew struck out, but Middlebrooks then came up with his bases-clearing hit.
Junichi Tazawa (3-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. He retired James Loney on a grounder with two on and two outs in the ninth.
Felix Doubront gave up two runs, three hits and six walks and had seven strikeouts over five-plus innings for the Red Sox, who are 6-9 in May. He threw 104 pitches, including 54 strikes.
Doubront pitched once in relief since his last start May 3 as the Red Sox have worked on the left-hander's delivery. His 1-0 pitch in the third to Luke Scott slipped out his hand and ended up in foul territory between home and first.
Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb allowed one run and three hits over 6-1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Cobb struck out 13 in 4-2/3 innings last Friday night against San Diego, becoming the first pitcher in major league history to fan that many batters and fail to make it through the fifth inning.
The Rays went up 3-1 in the sixth on RBI singles by Desmond Jennings and Scott.
Doubront was pulled after walking Loney to start the sixth. Clayton Mortensen entered, got an out before issuing a pair of walks to load the bases. Desmond Jennings then singled to put Tampa Bay up 2-1.